Class podium for Célia Martin at 12H of Nürburgring
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Another strong performance in tricky weather conditions at the most demanding racetrack in the world - the Nürburgring Nordschleife - gained Célia Martin a second place in the first edition of the Nürburgring 12 Hours, at her first time in Aston Martin GT4 equipment.
The first edition of the 12 Hours of the Nürburgring - fifth round of the NLS series - turned out to be a thrilling race for the 121 crews and over 300 drivers, who had to battle through the notorious Eifel weather as well as the challenges of changing light conditions and a restart. The race was in fact divided in two six-hour races, with the first part being a real tyre gamble due to the mixed weather conditions. This resulted in plenty of action throughout the many classes - which also featured some really talented female drivers, as it's often been the case in the Nürburgring-based series. Carrie Schreiner returned to the top class SP9 in the #2 Mercedes AMG GT3 Schnitzelalm entry, after a really positive return to the GT3 category at the previous round where the German driver clinched a P6 overall. KTM factory driver Laura Kraihamer was also back in NLS as she contests a partial campaign in Teichmann Racing's KTM X-Bow GTX in the Cup X GTX class. In the #270 Toyota GT86 Cup lined up in the SP3 class we could find an iconic name of motor racing: Vanina Ickx, returning to racing after an outstanding career in sports car racing until 2011. Australian Caitlin Wood - a former W Series racer that has always dreamt about reaching the top of endurance racing - has been learning quickly the secrets of the Nordschleife, having joined several races in NLS this year. For the first time at the wheel of the Giti Tire Motorsport by WS Racing, Wood entered the BMW F30 in the VT2-R+4WD category. Sophia Gachot was at the start in her #445 Porsche Cayman from the V5 class, while Lena Strycek joined her family effort at the wheel of the #485 Opel Astra J OPC in the VT2-FWD category. But one of the stars of the race would be Célia Martin - French racer that has become a real specialist of the extremely challenging Nordschleife. Martin has raced with the Girls Only project in the last couple of years and, together with Pippa Mann, Carrie Schreiner and Christina Nielsen, took class victory at the 24H of the Nürburgring in 2021. A very versatile driver, Martin joined ProSport Racing for the first time, sharing the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with Nico Verdonck and Guillaume Dumaray. In the very tricky conditions of Saturday morning, the trio was denied pole position in class by narrowly missing out on one last fast lap on slicks, as the track dried up quickly. They still claimed a P2 in class - and P46 overall -with 12 hours of intense racing where everything was to play for. "The race started on Saturday afternoon with a tough choice to be made to start on slicks or wets." - Célia recalled. The first part of the race was in fact a real gamble and several teams opted to pit straight after the start to change on the wet weather tyres as the rain intensified. "We decided to stay on slicks but the conditions got worse on the Nordschleife, so Guillaume [Dumaray] pitted on the next lap" - Martin explained. "I was in for the third then last stint on Saturday, moving up to first in class on a drying track in my last stint." As she has often proved in her other recent competitions at the Green Hell, when conditions get tricky, Célia Martin shines. Her performance at the race winning 24 Hour race last year - which saw awful weather disrupting a large part of the race - in changing grip conditions as well as in the dark of the night, once again made the difference. "I loved the mixed conditions and driving into the night as the track got dark - brings back memories of the 24hr race!" - she told us. "My best lap time of the stint came in these conditions, as I was the only GT4 driver to go under the 9 minute mark on Saturday." While ending the first half of the race in the class lead, the drivers of the #175 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 knew that it would have been a challenge to keep the position on Sunday, as they were off sequence with pit stops due to the early strategy at the start of the race, which had kept them on slicks one lap longer. "Weather was better on Sunday with no rain" - Célia continued. "We tried playing with the strategy and Guillaume and Nico both did really good stints and kept out of trouble." In the very competitive GT4 class, the top three teams ran close to each other and positions continued to be traded in between the round of pit stops. "I did the second and then the last stint, and we moved up to P2 in GT4 and 25th overall with only 1 lap to go and that is how we finished." - Martin summed up. "A really enjoyable and satisfying first experience for me in the Aston Martin and a great performance by the whole team." Célia Martin, Nico Verdonck and Guillaume Dumarey clinched a SP10 class podium, behind the #170 Ring Racing Toyota Supra GT4 of Tischner/Gülden/Tönges, and preceded the #177 Mercedes AMG GT4 of Waldow/Lamesch/Patzelt/Yücesan, with the three teams finishing on the same lap. In the overall classification, the Team Phoenix Audi lost the win in the second part of the race due to a strategic mistake that left Schramm/Giermaziak short on fuel, allowing the Falken Motorsports Porsche driven by Joel Eriksson, Jaxon Evans, Sven Müller and Alessio Picariello to climb into the lead. It was a difficult race for some of the other women in the race: Carrie Schreiner finished part 1 in 14th place, but she was able to recover to an overall top 10 with some good laps in her final stint. Sophia Gachot and Lena Strycek were third in their respective classes, while Vanina Ickx and Laura Kraihamer had unfortunate retirements. There was also tough luck for Caitlin Wood: with less than one hour to go, the Australian was unfortunately involved in an accident, but escaped unharmed. The sixth race of the NLS is scheduled for 8th October, which will return to the usual 4 hour race distance.